The big moment today was suddenly seeing RC and her four yearlings about 7 PM.
RC and her yearlings are all at good weights (RC over 220 pounds), but a yearling that is sticking closer to mom than the others has had a bad experience. I have never seen a bear with such damage to its nose and eye. It had to be an encounter with a powerful animal, maybe a male bear. The yearling’s left eye is badly messed up, and the end of its muzzle is missing.
The family was calm until RC put her nose in the air and hurried off as if to check out the scent. The yearlings sensed her urgency and fell in line behind her as she hurried down a fallen log on a mission. Her nose led her to a big white pine that got her full attention. I suspect a high testosterone male had been rubbing on it. RC sniffed most intensely at the height (about 5-6 feet) that males rub their crown and the back of the neck, which carry the strongest male scent.
As RC checked out the scent, the yearlings began foraging on nearby tender young blades of grass. Shortly, though, RC led them to a clump of big white pines that they all climbed. White pines are the favorite refuge tree because they have the kind of bark cubs can climb most easily, and they have thick branches to rest on. On hot, sunny days, shade from the needles can prevent over-heating.
It was good to see this family—probably earlier in the year than I’ve ever seen them. The injured yearling looks lucky to be alive. I hope it can do okay.
Spanky came out of his den on April 15 at 1:31 AM and quickly found our trail cam on a tree trunk 33 feet from his den entrance. Somehow, he managed to open it and leave it open but still working. He went off on one of his forays and didn’t return until 6:39 that evening. He left again at 2:16 AM on the 16th and apparently had not come back by noon today (the 17th) when I switched SD cards to learn his story.
Thank you for all you do.
Lynn Rogers, Biologist, Wildlife Research Institute and North American Bear Center
Wildlife Research Institute
145 West Conan Street
Ely, Minnesota 55731 USA